Warner accused of breaching suspension

As Blatter opens the 61st FIFA congress, suspended CONCACAF president Jack Warner is accused of violating ban.

    Sepp Blatter addresses the FIFA congress in Zurich, saying football's governing body was being threatened by a 'danger' attacking its foundations [GALLO/GETTY]

    As beleaguered football boss Sepp Blatter opened the 61st FIFA congress in Zurich on Tuesday, the scandal affecting world football's governing body showed no signs of dissipating.

    Suspended CONCACAF president Jack Warner urged members of the Caribbean Football Union on Tuesday to vote for incumbent Sepp Blatter in the presidential elections, leading to complaints that he should not be making such statements in light of his suspension.

    Warner was provisionally suspended on Sunday along with former presidential contender Mohammad bin Hammam, pending an ethics committee investigation into allegations of bribery.

    In a letter to members, Warner asked members not to protest against his suspension during Wednesday's FIFA congress in Zurich.

    "At our last meeting we agreed as a Union to support the incumbent Joseph Sepp Blatter in his quest to regain the Presidency," Warner said.

    "I wish to assure you nothing has changed - our mandate was set then and despite it all we must fulfil it."

    About turn

    Warner's position is a surprising one given that he had called for FIFA members to "stop Blatter" as recently as Sunday.

    Warner and Bin Hammam were suspended by FIFA's ethics committee pending a full probe into allegations that Caribbean football leaders were paid $40,000 each to back bin Hammam's presidential bid.

    Warner's letter also raised questions about whether, in writing the letter and giving advice to members, the Trinidadian had breached the suspension which bars him from 'football activities' at FIFA, both at international and national level.

    Chuck Blazer, the CONCACAF general secretary, told news agency Reuters he had already reported Warner for other, unspecified, breaches by Warner of his suspension.

    "That's a violation of his suspension from all football activities," Blazer said of the letter.

    He later told reporters in Zurich that "we have clear evidence of a violation of his suspension and we have reported that to the FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke."

    What crisis?

    Blatter meanwhile downplayed the chaos in FIFA's ranks having questioned the suggestion of a 'crisis' at a tense news conference on Monday.

    But in remarks to delegates at the glitzy opening ceremony at the FIFA congress on Tuesday, Blatter warned the organisation was being threatened by a "danger" attacking its foundations.

    "I thought that we were living in a world of fair play, respect and discipline ... I must unfortunately say this is not the case."

    Sepp Blatter

    "I thought that we were living in a world of fair play, respect and discipline," Blatter said.

    "I must unfortunately say this is not the case.

    "Because our pyramid, our famous FIFA pyramid, is unsure of its base and there is a danger.

    "So tomorrow (Wednesday) at the congress, I will speak of this danger that is there lurking and how we can react against this threat of danger so that our sport can play its role in bringing people together."

    Increasing tension

    Only a day before the FIFA election takes place, at which Sepp Blatter is standing unopposed, there have been calls for the presidential election to be postponed with leading global sponsors expressing concern that the image of the game was being damaged.

    The English Football Association called for more time to allow "any alternative reforming candidate'' to come forward to challenge Blatter, who has been president for 13 years and is seeking a final fourth-year term.

    Emirates, the Dubai-based airline, and Visa became the latest FIFA sponsors to express concern about the scandal, joining fellow World Cup sponsors Coca-Cola and Adidas.

    "The current situation is clearly not good for the game and we ask that FIFA take all necessary steps to resolve the concerns that have been raised,'' Visa said in a statement.

    Blatter's election itself however appears in no danger. A threatened walkout of Asian members seemed unlikely to develop, as some supporters of Asian Football Confederation President bin Hammam said they won't walk out in protest.

    European footballing body UEFA is expected to largely back Blatter in Wednesday's election.

    Any postponement of Wednesday's election would need the backing of three-quarters of the 208 federations attending the Congress, which was scheduled to be opened by Blatter late Tuesday.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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